I know I’ve been pretty quiet about Chip Kelly’s departure, but now that the dust has settled, I figured it was time to share some thoughts. Most of the time, I try not to speak negatively about coaches, players, etc, but for just a minute, I have jump on a soap box.
This may not be a popular take on things, but if I’m being completely honest, I’m actually happy he’s gone. I don’t mean any disrespect to Coach Kelly’s work here at Oregon- he was tremendously instrumental in Oregon’s success. However, I was never a big fan. I obviously put aside my dislike for him because whatever he was doing was obviously working, but I think if we are all being honest, what we all liked was that he was leading the Ducks to wins- a lot of them.
Coach Kelly was never going to stay here at Oregon. He wasn’t rooted here and it was always apparent (at least to me) that he didn’t understand and/or lacked a respect for Duck history and those that laid it. Some may argue with me, but I have talked with countless previous players who have echoed this sentiment. What makes Eugene and being a Duck fan so special is the community aspect of game day- loving our team through thick and thin, and Autzen going crazy, even still, when Kenny Wheaton’s pick plays on the Jumbotron. This team has historically been approachable, accessible…and open. It has respected the media and it’s fans. Yes, the era Chip Kelly brought success, but it also took a lot of the fun away. Before Kelly, players would stay on the field after the game, as fans poured onto the field to congratulate the players. Young boys, wearing their favorite Duck Jersey and carrying a Sharpie would frantically seek out that favorite player. Now, players are rushed off the field like untouchable celebrities and a bazillion security guards make a human wall along with a long rope around the field-letting fans know they are not welcome. Before the Kelly Era, fans could gather at Spring Practice to get a glimpse of their team, and media personnel could more readily interview players. All of these things helped the fans feel a part of it all, and it helped us get more and more excited about the team we all love.
I’m not saying all these changes were Kelly’s fault, or that they didn’t happen for some good reasons. I know a program with this much success has to keep a tight rein on things. I’m just saying perhaps it’s gone too far. In my opinion, Chip Kelly sent a message to the fans that they don’t matter, and he most certainly sent that message loud and clear to the media. I’m not saying fans and media run the show, but there’s a balance. I was personally disgusted with this past year’s Fan Day. I took both of my children to see the Ducks, up close and personal. It was an absolute fiasco, with players being brought in and pulled away- even when you could tell they wanted to stay- trying to get everyone an autograph. I have never seen so many kids so disappointed. The explanation for only having the players available for one hour (for a full field of people: “A team meeting”. Give me a break! As an added bonus- No Chip Kelly…anywhere. I know I may not be scoring many points right now, but even as a professed “biggest Duck fan” I was mad enough to throw my WTD poster in the trash on the way out. It wasn’t entirely Chips’ fault (and to be fair, perhaps he was sick that day), but I do believe it was an extension of the culture he created.
So when Chip Kelly suddenly departed this week without saying a goodbye/thanks/it’s been a fun ride to the fans, I have to say I was relieved. Of coarse, the changes are a little unnerving, but to see and feel that level of disrespect from a person that has been loved by this town, and Duck fans everywhere, was incredibly disappointing. It was as if he was trying to sneak out of town, never to look back. Again, I know some could care less “because he was obviously doing something right”, but I’m a girl who represents many who do care about the emotional aspect of things, and It was a slap in the face that in retrospect we all should have seen coming. Yes, Chip Kelly did a lot of the Duck Football program, but the program, and the community did a lot for him too- just sayin’.
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am not mad that he left and I’m not even mad he flip flopped. I totally expected it, and I totally get it. I would go if I were him too. I’m just saying maybe it’s a good thing. Perhaps it’s time to get back to what makes Duck Football, well…Duck Football. Perhaps we take the great things Chip Kelly brought to the table, say thank you, build upon them, and come ALL together again.
Can I get an “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”?